What if I told you that I believed that how we respond to the message of Christ as recorded in the Bible was the key to eternal life and for that matter abundant life while we lived here on this earth. Would you believe me? Would you believe that I believe that?
I just finished a pretty challenging study in the book of Jude. I have read this book several times but to be honest I have never studied it in any length. There is a lot in this little one chapter epistle. My big takeaway was in how I should be engaging for my Christian faith. In Jude 3, Jude writes:
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
He also writes in Jude 22, 23:
And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire
I don’t know how those verses strike you but I was challenged and saddened by the fact that message of God must be defended and contended for and there are some so opposed to the faith that they will seek to usurp God’s plan for mankind and develop a plan for themselves. But the Scripture is clear that there is no other name under heaven by which man is saved save the name and person of Jesus. Jesus Himself says that “I am the way and truth and the life and no one comes to the Father (goes to heaven) but by Me.”
Followers of Jesus tend to respond to the opposition to our faith in a few different ways.
1) They become defenders of the faith. If anyone should want to know what they believe or even question the faith they respond to these concerns or criticisms and give an answer for what they believe. This is a good and Biblical response.
2) They pretend that the conflict is not real and they sit idly by and let the chips fall where they may. I am thinking about friends I have who may read this post and know that they are radically opposed to the faith and who think yet again that I am deluded and wrong about how the spiritual world works. Yet the second passage says that I am to have mercy on those who doubt and even attempt to snatch them from the fire (which is an illusion of what happens to the doubters in the next life). But, I will probably do nothing.
3) They contend for the faith. This word contend is an interesting one. It means to exert intense effort on behalf of something— ‘to struggle for.’ Instead of being on the defense or maybe even on nothing-fense they are actually on the offense. This kind of challenge is one in which we see things opposed to the faith in the culture and we do something about it. WE CONTEND FOR THE FAITH. We step into the fray. We run to the battle. We show faith instead of fear. We speak up instead of stepping back. We act as if there is a real battle being waged for the souls of men and women.
What will I do? Continue to defend? Continue to pretend? Or start to contend?